NBA Playoffs: Breaking Down the Indiana Pacers' Embarassing Defeat in Game 3
All teams have down games, even in the playoffs. In Game 3 of the Indiana Pacers-Atlanta Hawks first-round series, the Pacers struggled mightily on both ends of the floor throughout the game. They ended up losing the game by 21 points, while scoring a playoff-low 69 points in the contest. This included a 30-point first half where the Pacers missed 32 of their 42 shots and allowed the Hawks to register 54 points against one of the best defenses in the league.
This slideshow will evaluate the areas of the game that hurt the Pacers and why they ended up having one of their worst playoff games in history.
Although the Pacers have been one of the more turnover-prone teams during the regular season, their carelessness with the basketball in Game 3 was unprecedented.
They're 24th in the league in turnovers per game, averaging over 15 during the season (per Team Rankings), but they recorded 22 turnovers in this game. Their starters combined to commit 17 turnovers in a total of 151 minutes on the court.
The Pacers are already a below-average offensive team. They cannot afford to cough up the ball that many times in the game. That's a formula for disaster, which cost the Pacers in Game 3.
Towards the end of the season, the Pacers' offense picked up its pace dramatically. In the beginning of the season, the Pacers were flirting with being dead last in offensive efficiency, but they still finished the year with the 19th best offense in the league (per Hollinger's Team Stats).
Yesterday's game looked like the old Pacers at the start of the season. They just couldn't get anything moving on offense. Many possessions ended with bad jumpers.
Although they missed a lot of easy shots in the paint and around the rim, the Hawks' tight interior defense contested most of those higher-percentage looks.
Defense wins championships, but you still have to put the ball into the basket. Shooting 27 percent from the field and recording 22 turnovers isn't exactly a championship-winning formula.
Weak Interior Defense
Defense is the Pacers' strongest suit, but they even struggled playing on that end of the floor in Game 3.
In the regular season, the Pacers were first in opponent's points in the paint per game, limiting their opponents to an average of 35.8 from that area.
However, they allowed the Hawks—particularly Al Horford—to decimate their interior defense by scoring 50 points in the paint in game 3.
Interestingly enough, the Hawks aren't even one of the best scoring teams in the paint. They average just 41 points per game from that area.
The Pacers will need to tighten up their interior defense in the following games. The team's philosophy starts and ends on the defensive end of the court. They can't allow the Hawks to penetrate the lanes and score points around the rim that easily.